Well, there’s no doubt now that Apple is trying to capitalize on the iPod’s popularity with the introduction of the Mac Mini.
HIT-Now, some friends of mine have already questioned why Apple is attempting to resurrect the Cube. That’s a good question. Yet, I do believe the timing is right to introduce a relatively inexpensive Mac, and being so small will enable it to fit in almost anywhere. Not to mention that its simple design is still rather stylish. I call the Mac Mini overall a “hit”.
One of the unsung beauties of the design is that it’s so small you can now have a truly portable desktop. Set up monitors, keyboards, and mice at each frequently used location and then haul the machine back and forth. Expensive? Not when compared to the cost of a Powerbook. This might be the ideal machine for college students who don’t want or need a notebook to take to class but still want a portable machine for use at school or at home. And you can secure the thing by locking it up inside a desk drawer!
MISS- Yet, the “inclusion of a Combo drive vice a DVD burner as standard equipment is a bad idea. The major idea behind the computer is to hook new users on the capability and integration of the Mac, iLife 05, specifically. Putting a combo drive in the Mac mini as standard hobbles iLife’s capabilities, i.e., you can’t use iDVD for anything, a fact that also impacts iMovie. That may prove ultimately to be the machine’s Achilles Heel and may show Apple up as a “penny wise but pound foolish” company. Yes, you can order the machine with a Built-To-Order Superdrive; but how many people not already familiar with the Mac platform will know to do that? How fewer will want to pay for it?
HIT- iLife 05 has several new features that make it appear to be a hit. iDVD finally will support DVD+R and DVD+/-RW as well as DVD-R. Both iMovie and iDVD will now handle High Definition (HD) video. iPhoto seems to have opened its file management capabilities a bit and may know allow me to finally just have one set of folders that are available from Finder or iPhoto and reside in the same place. (Not sure if I understand that piece correctly.) The Apple ads also state that iPhoto will now produce “cinematic” slide shows, and I’m not sure how that is better than the slideshows it will already produce. But I’ll let you know. I’ve already ordered the iLife 05 Family Pack. It’s due here by Jan 22nd.
MISS- While HD is admittedly the “up and coming” standard, it definitely is not at the consumer level, yet. In fact, I suspect it will be at least a year if not two before HD camcorders penetrates the consumer market to the point of wide acceptance. The moves Apple is making to move quickly into the HD market is laudable even if it is premature for the mass market. With this release, unless the next release has 64 bit computing and offers me performance or capability increases because of it, I probably will not upgrade to iLife 06. I’ve got too much capability now I’m not using.
MISS- iWork holds almost no interest for me, other than as a piece of software to review. While I agree AppleWorks needed reworking, I have to question what Apple is trying to achieve with its release. Certainly, Apple does not need to alienate Microsoft and have it withdraw support for the Mac version of Office, though iWorks really doesn’t seem like much of a threat. Of course, there is the counter argument that Apple needs its own word processor in case Microsoft does withdraw support. I’m going to go take a look at iWorks at the Apple Store just to see what there is to it. We’re running Office 2004 for the Mac here. I have no need for it, though I know there will be many Mac users who will buy it just to get the last Microsoft product off their machines.
HIT-The iPod Shuffle will be the low cost MP3 player that will open the doors of the iTunes Music store even further. If my wife or I want an iPod to take walking or jogging, you can be the iPod shuffle will be it.
MISS-Final Cut Express HD is simply premature in bringing HD editing to the market. At this point, its prime mission in life will be to allow professional videographers and broadcasters to play with the Apple platform without sinking the full price of Final Cut Pro HD into the experiment. I’m not saying this product won’t sell. It will…to those people who want Final Cut Express anyway. I just don’t believe you’re going to see a significant increase in orders. I own both Final Cut Pro HD and Express 2.0 and see few reasons to upgrade FCE 2, though there are a few things about the new version that make it desirable.
Look for a review of iLife 05 as soon after the 22nd as I can get to it.